By Stacy Harris
Whether you are sitting around the campfire, coming in from a cold day of working outside (or a long day at the office), or caring for someone who’s under the weather, soup is the ultimate comfort food – and none more so than my homemade Creamy Sweet Potato Soup.
What helps make it so tasty is that I roast the sweet potatoes instead of sautéing or boiling them. I find that roasting really brings out the flavor.
And as much as I love creamy soups, I think the creaminess is made even better with the addition of a crunchy topping. I have found that some of the most pleasing toppings for sweet potato soup are those herbs, vegetables, and fruits that are harvested at the same time as the sweet potatoes. Some of my family’s favorites are julienned pears, scallions, chopped cucumbers, candied walnuts, tortilla strips, and fried herbs.
Yes, you read that right: fried herbs. Last time I made my sweet potato soup, I fried some basil leaves, along with a thinly sliced sweet potato and some red jalapeño pepper, to add crunch and even more flavor to the soup. I then crumbled goat cheese on top for a bit of tartness and even more creaminess. It was a real hit with my family! I’ve included these elements in the recipe below; feel free to omit those ingredients and steps if you’d prefer a different topping.
Whatever you do, this hearty, creamy sweet potato soup is going to satisfy you and anyone you prepare it for, no matter what the toppings. It would be a fantastic soup to serve at a fall party alongside a wide choice of toppings. Just make sure you make enough, though, because I’ve had folks come back for fourth and fifth servings!
While it’s fine to get your spices from a bottle, freshly grating them gives the recipe an even better flavor.
Creamy Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 6 to 8
6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3½ lbs.)
1 pear, seeded and quartered
olive oil, for sautéing and frying
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red jalapeño pepper
18 basil leaves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream
1 small log goat cheese
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Roughly chop 5 of the sweet potatoes. Spread sweet potatoes and pear pieces onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Add a light coating of olive oil along with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then place in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through the potato chunks.
2. Meanwhile, heat a skillet with a little olive oil until just hot. Add the onion and celery, and sauté for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté a minute more. While these vegetables are cooking, slice the remaining sweet potato and the red jalapeño pepper as thinly as possible.
3. In another pan, add about ¼ inch of olive oil and fry the basil leaves; these will fry quickly, so keep an eye on them. Remove the leaves to a paper towel to drain, then repeat the process with the sweet potato and jalapeño strips. (It should take about 2 minutes to fry the sweet potato and less than a minute to fry the pepper.)
4. Remove roasted vegetables from the oven and place them into a food processor along with the nutmeg, ginger, vegetable stock, and whipping cream. Transfer the onions, celery, and garlic to the food processor and purée the ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasonings to desired taste.
5. Divide soup among 6 bowls and garnish each with 3 basil leaves, 3 or 4 sweet potato chips and a few fried jalapeño pepper strips. Crumble goat cheese over the soup and serve immediately.